Book Reviews What he does explore is the relation of language skills to identity. His eighth chapter begins with a set of four criteria to characterize the abilities of participants in "a gleyzele tey." These include fluency with few pauses; expressiveness in coherent, reasoned, "semantically dense" sentences; ease in speaking on a variety of topics; inventiveness in phrasing utterances. Although the analysis based on these criteria is informal, Peltz relying on "subjective evaluation" (p. 136), his judgments of skills in Yiddish correspond with what he reports of participants' memories. The more fully a participant recalled speaking Yiddish in accord with the first two patterns described above, the greater the fluency in old age. Unfortunately, Peltz does not discuss how participants' skills relate to their reliance on Yiddish in cultural or social settings other than "a gleyzele tey." Yet he concludes that he found among the participants a "universal love for the language" (p. 143), a result supported by fond memories. How does Peltz's study of South Philadelphians contribute to an understanding of the possibilities of continuity, of sustaining Yiddish? If memories associate Yiddish with Jewish traditions at home, Peltz has learned that an initiator, as he is himself,
Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies – Purdue University Press
Published: Oct 3, 1999
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